Winding down the year

A Christmas Story House and Museum, Cleveland, OH (photo by AKF)

Trailheads is taking a little breather this week to digest all those cookies, watch A Christmas Story a few more times, and make a couple of New Year’s resolutions that will be forgotten by February.

Centre Daily Times photos of the Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day tribute at the Pennsylvania Military Museum were featured in a compilation slideshow of December 7 commemoration events around the country. You can view them here (photos 18, 19, and 21).

You can see a slideshow of the Dec. 9 dress rehearsal for the annual Christmas crossing of the Delaware at Washington Crossing Historic Park here thanks to Bucks Local News. posted photos of the Christmas Tree Ship program at Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara on Dec. 14. This year's event drew about 1,000 people to see the ship adorned with lights, talk to Santa on board, and enjoy Christmas music and storytelling. You can see the photos here.

The restoration project on the George and Frederick Rapp houses at Old Economy Village received some thoughtful coverage here by Pittsburgh’s Trib Total Media.

Next week we’ll give you the January program preview. Until then, best wishes and warmest regards for a safe and happy new year’s celebration. See you in 2013!

What Can We Say?

Somehow my planned witty (?) remark about the Mayan calendar seems utterly inappropriate since so many families in Newtown, Connecticut, have just experienced what I imagine must feel like the end of the world. My heart goes out to all who have been touched by this tragedy or by other losses that make family holiday gatherings a whirl of mixed emotions. Many or most of us know what it’s like to have an empty chair at the table, so to speak, even if the loss isn’t as raw as it is for the families of the children and adults who died at Sandy Hook Elementary last week. In the coming days, as last-minute Christmas or Kwanzaa preparations and New Year’s activities make us a little frantic, I hope we will all take time to cut each other some slack and remember to be kind. Yes, even when someone takes your parking space. Maybe we can help reduce the amount of hate in the world.

On a less somber (and preachy) note, there are activities on the Trails of History in the coming week as well. All sites except Washington Crossing are closed on December 25. Some sites will be closed on Christmas Eve, either because they’re open only by appointment until spring or because they’re closed on Mondays. Some sites that are open that day may close early. So, please check ahead to avoid disappointment (the same goes for New Year’s Eve).

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, photo by Cindy Reedy, via Facebook

Tomorrow is Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum’s Old Fashioned Children’s Christmas from 10 am to 3 pm. Activities and projects will be centered on this year’s gingerbread theme. No registration is needed and the activities are included in regular admission (which is free for members of Landis Valley Associates). Next week, on Dec. 27 and 28, the site will offer its popular Winter Day Camp for kids age 5-11. Registration is required and there are discounts for LVA members and for multi-day registrations (go here for details).

At Washington Crossing Historic Park, reenactors will step into the Durham boats at approximately 1 pm on Christmas Day to commemorate the night of Dec. 25, 1776, when George Washington and his troops crossed the icy Delaware River to mount an attack on British and Hessian troops in Trenton, New Jersey. This year is the 60th anniversary of the Crossing reenactment, which also features speeches and readings related to the American Revolution. The event is free and happens rain or shine (river conditions will determine the actual launch of the boats).

Ephrata Cloister Student Historians, 2011, via Facebook
Ephrata Cloister’s Lantern Tours (Dec. 26-29) are a wonderful way to experience the site and learn some of the history of the celibate sisters and brothers, as well as the other community members who worshipped with them. The presentations feature junior and senior high school students who work with site staff on this annual event. This year's program focuses on the winter of 1769, when a property dispute divided the community. Tours start from the visitor center on the half hour, 6:30 to 8 pm. You’ll need tickets for this program (Ephrata Cloister Associates and members of the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation receive discounted admission). Call 717/733-6600 to reserve your spot.

Young children and their families can ring in 2013 a little early at the State Museum of Pennsylvania's Noon Year's Eve program on Dec. 27 from 10 am to noon. This year the focus is on the arts, and activities will be available throughtout the museum. Families will gather in Memorial Hall at noon to see the Museum's large firefly drop, along with lots of balloons. The program is included in regular museum admission; reservations are not needed. Go here for more info.

Shameless Commercialism (in support of a great cause)

Those of you celebrating Christmas on December 25 know that we’re going into the home stretch, and those of you not celebrating know that those of us who are can get pretty annoying right about now. My favorite rock station started their all-Christmas lineup BEFORE Thanksgiving, so I had to go back to listening to the news (yikes). As we approach the fiscal cliff AND the end of civilization (according to some interpretations of the Mayan calendar), I’d like to offer a suggestion:

Thanks to American Alliance of Museums Facebook page

As I’m sure you know, museum stores offer a wide variety of cool stuff that you may not find other places; they provide an opportunity to shop local and (often) buy local; and they help support museums and historic sites. Obviously, I’d love for you to visit one of our stores on the Pennsylvania Trails of History, ( but if you can’t, please consider shopping at a museum store for someone on your gift list (or for yourself—I promise not to tell).

If you have history-minded folks on your list, you might also consider a gift membership to any of our Trails of History friends groups. Membership generally includes free regular admission and discounts in the museum store (which you can use when you do your holiday shopping—hint, hint). It may also include discounts and advance purchase of tickets for programs and special events; behind-the-scenes or members-only events and receptions; and, depending on the membership level, guest passes to take others with you when you visit. (Pssst—buy a membership for yourself, too, if you haven’t already.)

One final plug. As the sesquicentennial of the Civil War continues, a new book, The Civil War in Pennsylvania: A Photographic History, might be just the thing for someone interested in the Civil War and/or historical photography. A project of Pennsylvania Civil War 150, the book was published by the Senator John Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh. You can order it (and other Civil War and Pennsylvania history-themed goodies) from the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation through the Shop PA Heritage website.

Happy shopping! And thank you.

Plans for the Weekend (and a couple of days next week)

As the weather flickers back and forth between unseasonably warm and seasonably chilly and holiday preparations are in full swing (Happy Hanukkah to those celebrating the festival of lights in the coming week), sites on the Trails of History are hosting a number of programs. Many of them are long-cherished traditions in their communities. Most were listed in last week’s post, but they bear repeating, I think.

If you’re reading this Friday morning and are within an hour or two of Boalsburg, you still have time to get to the “Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Tribute” at the Pennsylvania Military Museum, which starts at 12:45 pm. There will be a brief ceremony under the USS Pennsylvania guns (adjacent to the museum parking lot) that were at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Attendees will then be invited into the museum to view a documentary on the attack that includes interviews with American and Japanese veterans. (Please note that the museum is open only by appointment until Charter Day weekend in March.)

Pennsbury Manor’s annual “Holly Nights” program concludes this evening (6-9 pm), with entertainment, firelight, greenery, hot cider, and cookies. You can tour the Manor House by candlelight, make a pomander ball, listen to instrumental and choral music performed by groups from the local community, and see a Mummers Play (mumming is a British holiday tradition—you can read more about it here). Check out Pennsbury’s website here for the entertainment schedule and a downloadable discount coupon.

Holly Nights 2011, photo by Don Giles

“Home for the Holidays,” Saturday only (9 am-5 pm) at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, provides music, costumed interpreters representing railroaders and passengers of days gone by, a chance to send Santa a telegram, and cocoa (while supplies last). The program is included in regular admission, so you can also catch the museum’s Civil War exhibit before it closes on Dec. 30 or try out the new virtual tours using the touchscreen kiosks or your own mobile device. Best of all, the recently installed geothermal climate control system in Rolling Stock Hall makes a winter visit much more comfortable than you may remember. (A model train layout on loan from the Museum will be on view for visitors to the Governor’s Residence Open House on Sunday, Dec. 9; go here for info on this public event.)

“Victorian Christmas” continues this weekend at Eckley Miners’ Village. The Sharpe House, built in 1861 and restored to its 1874 appearance, is decorated for the holidays. Enjoy cookies and tea; tea cups and Christmas ornaments will be available for purchase to support the museum’s programs (donations are also welcome). The program takes place from noon to 4 pm Saturday and Sunday. You can find photos of last year’s event on Eckley’s Facebook page here.

“Country Christmas Village” is Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum’s annual exploration of Pennsylvania German holiday customs. Christmas trees of many varieties, an elaborate miniature village scene, and a visit with der Belsnickel (more “Get off my lawn” than “Ho, ho, ho,” but still not to be missed). Be sure to stop by the tavern for hot cocoa and gingersnaps. The program is included in regular admission and takes place Saturday, 10 am-4 pm, and Sunday, noon-4 pm.

Old Economy Village, photo via Facebook

Not to confuse things, but on the other side of the state, Old Economy Village will present its traditional program, “Christmas at the Village,” this weekend. Paths will be lit by lanterns, and visitors can browse beautiful handmade gifts in the Feast Hall, tour the cobblestone street by candlelight, and enjoy some 19th-century window shopping. There will also be activities for children, including a visit with Belsnickel, who will check his book to see who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. Please purchase tickets at the Visitor Center and then take a horse-drawn carriage to the village. The program takes place Saturday, 2-9 pm, and Sunday, 2-7 pm.

On Sunday, Daniel Boone Homestead presents “A Homestead Christmas,” complete with crafts, light refreshments, blacksmithing demonstrations, and horse-drawn wagon rides. The Wayside Lodge will be playing the role of Santa’s Workshop as kids visit with Jolly Old Saint Nick and help him make 18th-century-style toys. Shop for unique gifts in the museum shop (and enjoy some wassail) and keep an eye out for the Belsnickel. That’s right, Santa AND Belsnickel on one day—you can compare and contrast as you learn about different Christmas traditions. Admission is $4 for ages 4-12 and $6 for ages 13 and older; Friends of DBH get in free. The program takes place on Sunday only, noon-4 pm.

Daniel Boone Homestead, photo via Facebook

If you can’t make it to Washington Crossing on Dec. 25 to see the Christmas Crossing event, you might want to attend the “Dress Rehearsal” this Sunday. In addition to the practice run for the yearly reenactment of Gen. George Washington and his troops crossing the Delaware River, Sunday’s event includes lots of other activities including open hearth cooking. Last month, the Chicago Tribune listed the Crossing events in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to its list for travelers who want to start new family holiday traditions. (Thanks to the PA Tourism PR Team's (@patourismpr) Twitter feed for that little piece of news.) Go here for more info. Admission is $4 for ages 5-11, $8 for 12 and up; the event runs from 11 am to 3 pm, with the crossing at about 1 pm.

By the time you read this, tickets for “Christmas at the Cloister,” Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 10-11, (that’s Ephrata Cloister, of course) may be sold out, but it’s worth checking (seats for the 9 pm performances always go last, so if you’re able to stay up that late you may be in luck). You’ll find more info here.

On Tuesday, Dec. 11, visitors to Drake Well Museum will be admitted for free if they make a donation to the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign. This is the museum’s third free admission day this fall offered in partnership with a community organization (previous efforts collected food and household supplies for a local food pantry and for the local YWCA shelter for women and children). If you haven’t seen the new exhibit at Drake Well, this is a great opportunity to do so and help the museum help the Titusville community.

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you have a wonderful and safe weekend!

December Song

Ephrata Cloister, Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, and Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania are participating TODAY in the Lancaster County Community Foundation’s Extraordinary Give, a 24-hour online fundraising marathon. Based on designated donations to each participating organization (, the Foundation will distribute an additional $250,000. (If you’re not in Lancaster County and would rather support a Trails of History site closer to home, that’s cool too—they’re all listed here and they’ll be happy to receive a donation.) Thank you for your support.

Please note that a number of sites are now (or soon will be) on their winter schedules, which means they are open fewer days or closed to the public except by prior arrangement. It’s always a good idea to check the schedule before you go, but it’s really a good idea this time of year. All sites will be closed on Dec. 25, with the exception of Washington Crossing Historic Park (see below).

Anthracite Heritage Museum
Dec. 1: Christmas in a Small Town—Also known as the Santa Train, this program is sponsored by the Lackawanna Heritage Valley National and State Heritage Area in partnership with a bunch of organizations including the Museum. The public is invited to welcome Santa at various stops and board the train for a visit (train rides not included); for details, go here.

Brandywine Battlefield
Dec. 16: Battlefield MoviesJohn Adams, the 2008 mini-series from HBO Films starring Paul Giamatti in the title role and Laura Linney as Abigail Adams. 1 pm.

Conrad Weiser Homestead
Dec. 2: Christmas Open House—This annual event also includes a book sale. Friends of Conrad Weiser Homestead receive a 20% discount on purchases, others receive 10% (sounds like a good reason to join, if you ask me). Noon-4 pm.

Cornwall Iron Furnace
Dec. 1, Christmas at Cornwall House Tour—This annual tour lets you explore private homes in the Cornwall/Lebanon area while supporting the Friends of Cornwall Iron Furnace. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 on the day of the tour (which, okay, is tomorrow); they’re available at the Furnace. Tour booklet includes a discount coupon for the Timeless CafĂ© in Lebanon. Go here for more info. 10 am-4 pm.

Daniel Boone Homestead
Dec. 9: A Homestead Christmas—Explore English and German Christmas traditions, enjoy hot chocolate and wassail, visit with Santa, and shop for baked goods and gifts for the history-minded folks on your list. Noon-4 pm.

Drake Well Museum
Dec. 15: Santa’s Workshop—Children in grades 1-5 are invited to make a craft, watch a holiday movie, shop for gifts for family and friends, and share a snack. Registration is required ($5 fee per child); call the museum at 814/827-2797 to sign up. 1-3 pm.

Eckley Miners’ Village
Dec. 1-2, 8-9: Victorian Christmas—This program takes place in the 1861 Sharpe House and features Victorian decorations, tea, and cookies. Ornaments and teacups will be available for purchase as part of this fundraising event. Noon-4 pm.

Ephrata Cloister
Dec. 10-11: Christmas at the Cloister—This popular annual program combines traditional music (sung by the Ephrata Cloister Chorus) and readings. Tickets are limited and may be sold out by the time you read this; call 717/733-6600 or check Ephrata’s Facebook page here. 6:30, 7:45, 9 pm.
Dec. 26-29: Lantern Tours—Tour the site and follow the story, presented by junior and senior high school students under the guidance of museum staff. Tours start every half hour and leave from the visitor center. Reservations are required; tickets go on sale tomorrow (Dec. 1). Call 717/433-6600 to reserve your spot. 6:30-8 pm.

Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara
Dec. 14: Christmas Tree Ship—Inspired by the story of the schooner Rouse Simmons, this program features Niagara lit up for Christmas, a visit with Santa, and a chance to do something nice for others. Admission is free and open to the public. Please bring new or gently used lights and/or ornaments to help decorate trees that will be provided to members of the community (the museum works with Erie’s Crime Victims Center and Multi-Cultural Center to select recipients). 5:30-8:30 pm (ship lighting at 5:45).

Graeme Park
Dec. 8: Hearth and Home Cooking Series—Taught in the summer kitchen of the Keith House, this program focuses on the seasonal availability of foods in southeastern Pennsylvania. Advance registration (with payment) is required by Dec. 6 (additional classes will take place on March 9 and May 11); call 215/343-0965. 10:30 am-2 (or 3) pm.

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
The Pennsylvania Long Rifle exhibit, originally slated to close on Dec. 31, has been extended through June 10, 2013.
Dec. 1-2, 8-9: Country Christmas Village—Enjoy a Pennsylvania German Christmas, with all kinds of trees (including upside down), an elaborate miniature village scene, a visit from Belsnickel (Santa with attitude), plus complimentary cocoa and gingersnaps. Included in regular admission. Dec. 1 & 8, 10 am-4 pm; Dec. 2 & 9, noon-4 pm.
Dec. 5: Days of the Belsnickel Dinner Tour—Start with some shopping in the Weathervane followed by wine and cheese in the visitor center, take a horse-drawn wagon ride, and enjoy a traditional turkey dinner in the Landis Valley Hotel. Oh, and spend some time with der Belsnickel, who’s sure to be a cranky addition to the party. Reservations required (sign up by Monday, 12/3); call 717/581-0431 or email 5:30 pm.
Dec. 8: Days of the Belsnickel Lunch Tour—Tour the village to see the holiday decorations and open hearth cooking, then enjoy a traditional home-cooked meal and shopping at the Weathervane. Der Belsnickel will be on hand to liven things up. Reservations required (no later than Monday, 12/3); call 717/581-0590 or email 11 am.
Dec. 14: Holiday at Landis Valley Bonfire—What’s not to like? Caroling, a blazing bonfire, wagon rides, hot cider and cookies. And it’s free—Landis Valley’s gift to the community. Return the favor by bringing nonperishable food items for the local food bank (truck will be parked by the Visitor Center for easy drop-off). 6-8:30 pm.
Dec. 22: Old Fashioned Children’s Christmas—This year’s theme is gingerbread; children can decorate gingerbread cookies, make gingerbread-based crafts, and hear the story of the Gingerbread Man in the one-room schoolhouse. Included in regular admission (no reservations required). 10 am-3 pm.
Dec. 27-28: Winter Day Camp—A great way to keep everyone happy and sane during school break. The theme this year is the North Pole, and days will be filled with fun and activity. Cost includes snacks and a hot lunch each day. Discounts available for Landis Valley Associates members and for multi-day registrations. Call 717/569-0401 x228 or email 8:30 am-4:30 pm.

Old Economy Village
Dec. 8-9: Christmas at the Village—Enjoy Christmas carols sung by local choirs, shop for handmade wares by local craftspeople, and stop by the Granary for children’s activities and to see whether Belsnickel’s book has you down as naughty or nice. Please start at the Visitor Center to purchase tickets and then take a horse-drawn carriage to the village. Dec. 8, 2-9 pm; Dec. 9, 2-7 pm.

Pennsbury Manor
Dec. 1: Wreaths & Greens Workshop—Make a fragrant and festive wreath and learn tips on caring for evergreens in your home landscape. Registration is required; call 215/946-0400. Please bring your own clippers. Morning session, 10 am-noon; afternoon session, 1-3 pm.
Dec. 6-7: Holly Nights—A special opportunity to see Pennsbury by night with candlelight, bonfires, and hearth fires. Enjoy caroling, hot cider, and throwing a green sprig on the Yule log bonfire for luck. Click here for details and to download a discount coupon. 6-9 pm.

Pennsylvania Military Museum
Dec. 7: Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Tribute—Gather with others beneath the guns of the USS PENNSYLVANIA (adjacent to the museum parking lot) to mark the 71st anniversary of the attack on the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. 12:45 pm.

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
Dec. 1 and 8: Home for the Holidays—Costumed engineers, conductors, ticket agents, and passengers representing the past century bring historic rail travel to life. Kids can visit with Santa or work with a telegrapher to send a Christmas telegram to the North Pole. Holiday music, refreshments (while supplies last), and shopping are part of the day too. Click here for more info. Included in regular admission. 9 am-5 pm.
Dec. 30: Final day to see the Museum’s 2012 special exhibit, “The Role of Railroads in Pennsylvania During the Civil War.” Noon-5 pm.

State Museum of Pennsylvania
Through Dec. 20: 3rd in the Burg Gives Back—The Museum is a drop-off point for donations of canned and other nonperishable food items for Harrisburg’s Ecumenical Food Pantry. Donors receive a discount coupon for the Museum Store. Donations accepted during regular operating hours.
Dec. 15: Kwanzaa and Christmas Celebration—A collaboration of Nathaniel Gadsen’s Writers Wordshop, American Literacy Corp., Ksongz, Inc., and Life Esteem, Inc., this program is a celebration of family. Food, music, workshops, and more. Admission is free. 10 am-3 pm.
Dec. 27: Noon Year’s Eve—Ring in 2013 a few days early at this popular program for young children and their families. Dancing, crafts, and snacks leading up to the big drop in Memorial Hall at noon. Included in regular admission. 10 am-noon.

Washington Crossing Historic Park
Dec. 9: Dress Rehearsal—Historical demonstrations, activities, and the final rehearsal for the reenactment of the Christmas 1776 crossing of the Delaware by Gen. Washington and Continental troops. Admission charged. 10 am-4 pm (crossing is scheduled for 1 pm).
Dec. 25: 60th Annual Christmas Day Crossing—Thousands of folks will be on hand to watch as Gen. Washington (portrayed by John Godzieba) and three Durham boats full of reenactors cross the Delaware River (weather permitting). The event is free to the public. 1 pm.

On Being Thankful

This year, I’m thankful for my husband, my mom, my brother, and all the rest of my family—in-laws, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins of all varieties. I’m thankful for new friends and colleagues and thankful for old long-time friends and colleagues. I’m thankful for good health and a happy home. I’m thankful for Trailheads readers (many of whom fall into other categories already noted). And I’m thankful for the opportunity to share with you the good work that goes on every day on the Trails of History. What are you thankful for this year?

Most sites are closed today, but if you feel the need to get everyone (or just yourself) out of the house, you should find Fort Pitt Museum, Pennsylvania Military Museum, Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, and Washington Crossing Historic Park (with the exception of Bowman's Hill Tower) open. (As always, it's a good idea to check ahead just in case there's been a change.) On Saturday, all sites will be on their normal schedules, and shopping in our museum stores is a great way to celebrate Small Business Saturday.

Site Administrator Dr. Bode Morin (left) with Robert Vybrenner, recipient of
the inaugural  Black Diamond Award from the Eckley Miners’ Village
 Associates. Photo by Donna Buchanan (via Facebook)

In keeping with today’s theme, I’ll mention that Eckley Miners’ Village Associates recently presented their inaugural Black Diamond Award to the organization’s immediate past president, Robert Vybrenner. The award was initiated to honor and recognize meritorious service in support of the Village, its programs, and its mission of preserving and sharing with the public the heritage of the anthracite coal region.

So I’ll add to my list of things I’m thankful for all of the people who give their hearts and their energies to keeping the Trails of History vibrant. Thank you!


If you’re in the Harrisburg area, you can still catch day two of the annual Holiday Marketplace, organized by the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation and sponsored by PSECU. Lots of nice stuff from museum stores at Trails of History sites, as well as from Commonwealth partners. And a lunchtime demonstration of turning maple syrup into maple sugar. Yum. (More info is here.)

Did you know that today is Museum Educator Appreciation Day? We’re not exactly sure where we got this, but it was started by a former director of the Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums (curators get appreciated in February). So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all museum educators, but especially my colleagues on the Trails of History, for their hard work, their dedication to our visitors, and their perseverance. I’m honored to work with you.

Cover Day 2012, photo by John Baker, Flagship Niagara League
At the Erie Maritime Museum and US Brig Niagara, Cover Day marks the beginning of winter as surely as the solstice, ubiquitous holiday music, or the influx of catalogues in your mailbox. Senior Captain Walter Rybka describes it as “the closest thing we have to a barn raising.” Crew, staff, and volunteers worked together on Nov. 10 to erect the wooden framework and attach the canvas that protects Niagara’s deck from snow, sleet, and rain until sailing season comes again in the spring. Thanks to John Baker for sharing the photo above.

Scranton Iron Furnaces, via Facebook
We’ve been posting a lot of info about the Scranton Iron Furnaces site, which is quickly becoming a focal point for community events and activities on the city’s south side. A note posted on their Facebook page suggests that there may be a bit too much attention. After noticing an increase in photos online that seem to be taken from vantage points not generally accessible to the public, they’ve asked that photographers (amateurs or pros) contact the site if they have photo ideas involving those areas. Good advice at any site, in my opinion. The safety and security of our visitors and our structures, collections, landscapes, and archaeological remains are a responsibility we can’t and don’t take lightly. (Imagine every schoolmarm caricature you’ve ever seen—that’s how I look right now.)

Combat Rations exhibit, Pennsylvania Military Museum, photo by AKF
In time for Veterans Day, the Centre Daily Times ran a feature article about the 2012 foodways theme exhibit at the Pennsylvania Military Museum. The temporary exhibit highlights combat rations from various eras and explores how soldiers were and are fed while in the field. Each year, PMM adds elements to their ongoing exhibit to reflect that year’s PHMC theme. You have until the end of November to catch this year’s offering before the museum closes for the winter (except for Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day on Dec. 7). After that, you’ll just have to wait for the 2013 edition (PHMC’s theme next year is the Civil War and the centennial of the PA Historical Commission).

Honoring Veterans and Celebrating our History

STORM UPDATE: Washington Crossing Historic Park reports that a normal operating schedule is back in place for the temporary Visitor Center, historic buildings in the Lower Park, and the Thompson-Neely House in the Upper Park (assuming the nor'easter hasn't changed that). However, the work to restore electrical service to Bowman’s Hill Tower is not yet completed. We’ll keep you posted when the Tower is able to reopen for visitors. As far as I am aware, all other Trails of History sites are operating under their normal schedules for this time of year.

Most sites will be closed this Sunday, Nov. 11, for Veterans Day, but Fort Pitt Museum, Joseph Priestley House, Pennsylvania Military Museum, Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, and Washington Crossing Historic Park (with exceptions noted above) will be open. The Daniel Boone Homestead Spinner’s Guild will present a program on “Plant Fibers in Colonial Times” at 2 pm in the DeTurk Education Center.

Some sites will also be closed on Monday, Nov. 12, due to an adjusted holiday schedule or because they’re closed on Mondays anyway. Repeat after me—always check ahead to make sure the site you want to visit will be open when you plan to be there.

Tomorrow, Nov. 10, the Pennsylvania Military Museum will host the 2nd annual Kids Day, which offers children ages 3 to 13 the opportunity to try on military uniform items, talk to veterans, and explore the museum’s exhibits of military equipment and life in the service. (The Centre Daily Times has some coverage of the event here.) There will be plenty of photo ops, and youth admission is discounted 50%. (You can see photos from last year’s event here.)

This just in: Ship's Company, the US Brig Niagara living history unit, will be among the groups marching tomorrow morning in Erie's Veterans Day parade. And the cover will be going on the ship for the winter--Cover Day was rescheduled from last week.

However you spend this coming weekend, please take a moment to reflect on those who have served our country and on those who work to honor their legacy.


As I write this (Nov. 1), sites on the Trails of History are in various stages of dealing with the results of Superstorm Sandy. Overall, we fared pretty well, as far as I know, with less flooding than during last year’s bout with Irene and Lee. However, some sites in the southeastern part of the state are still without electricity. Some are working to clean up fallen trees and other debris. That’s no doubt true for many Trailheads readers, as well. And I’m sure some of you, or people close to you, are dealing with far worse.

If you were planning to visit, or attend a program at, one of our sites this weekend, I strongly encourage you to check ahead to be sure everything’s still on schedule.

Our colleagues at the Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara shared, on their Facebook page, their tribute to HMS Bounty, which sank off the coast of North Carolina earlier this week. Built for the film Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), the ship was en route from New London to St. Petersburg when its bilge pump and engine failed. Most of the crew made it into lifeboats and were rescued by the US Coast Guard. One sailor, Claudene Christian, perished and the captain, Robin Walbridge, has not been found. Walbridge served as an engineer on Niagara in 2000, and Bounty participated in Tall Ships Erie 2010 (there’s a photo of Capt. Walbridge in the guest blog post Linda Bolla wrote for Trailheads).

The sailing community is a close-knit group, and I know that there are many people affected by this loss. Our hearts go out to all who lost loved ones as a result of this historic storm.

Looking Forward to November?

If you’re still looking for something to do this weekend (besides stocking up on bread, milk, and toilet paper before the apocalyptic storm being predicted as I post this), you can find the October program preview here to refresh your memory. I’ve included a few items below that didn’t make it into the earlier list, but the bulk of it belongs to November. Most sites will be closed for Veterans Day on Nov. 11 and also on Nov. 12 (either because they’re normally closed on Mondays or because of an adjusted holiday schedule). All sites will be closed on Thanksgiving, but some will be open the following day. I’ve indicated below which sites are open, but it’s always best to check ahead to make absolutely sure, as plans can change.

Anthracite Heritage Museum
Oct. 28: Remember Johnny Mitchell Day—this annual event commemorates the United Mine Workers President who led the anthracite strike of 1902. This year’s program includes historic film footage of anthracite mining along with commentary by Atty. F. Charles Petrillo and Dr. Philip Mosley. (More info on Facebook here.) 2 pm.

Brandywine Battlefield
Nov. 24: Patriot’s Day—British and Continental troops, civilian reenactors, sutlers, and much more at this annual event commemorating the Battle of Brandywine and its significance to the American Revolution. There will be a special Saturday edition of Battlefield Movies, featuring The Patriot. 9 am-4 pm (movie at 1 pm).
Nov. 25: Battlefield MoviesApril Morning, a 1988 Hallmark Hall of Fame production about the Battle of Lexington and Concord, based on the 1961 novel by Howard Fast. 1 pm.

Conrad Weiser Homestead
Nov. 4: Open noon-4 pm.
Nov. 17: Candlelight Tours—this annual program features living history, 18th-century music, and a chance to see the site by night. 6-8:30 pm.

Cornwall Iron Furnace
Nov. 13: Friends Lecture Series—“Architecture of the Cornwall Area,” with speaker Bryan Van Sweden of PHMC’s Bureau for Historic Preservation. Van Sweden’s lecture will include a demonstration of “reading” clues in the architecture of old buildings. Lectures are held in the auditorium of Freeman Hall at Cornwall Manor retirement community. 7 pm.

Daniel Boone Homestead
Nov. 3: Daniel Boone Birthday Celebration—“meet” Daniel Boone, in the person of historian and interpreter Scott New from Fort Boonesborough, Kentucky. There will be lots of activities going on (go here for details). The Friends of DBH are holding a fundraising dinner that evening (deadline for reservations is Oct. 27 so call now). 10 am-4 pm; Scott New will present his Boone program at 11 am and 2 pm; dinner is at 7 pm.
Nov. 11: Fall Lecture Series—today’s program is presented by the Daniel Boone Spinner’s Guild; check the website for details. 2 pm.
Nov. 18: Fall Lecture Series—Les Rohrback from the Berks County Association for Graveyard Preservation is the guest speaker. 2 pm.

Eckley Miners’ Village
Ongoing: Fall Foliage Photo Contest—pay a one-time fee of $5 for access to the site and enter your best autumn photo. Deadline is Dec. 3 (go here for info and entry form).
Nov. 11: Fall Lecture—presented by the Greater Hazleton Area Polonaise Society, celebrating Polish American heritage. 2-4 pm. PROGRAM WILL BE RESCHEDULED FOR SPRING 2013.

Ephrata Cloister
Nov. 1 and 8: Tickets for Christmas at the Cloister—dates for the program are Dec. 10 and 11, but tickets go on sale in November. Members of Ephrata Cloister Associates can purchase tickets in the museum store or postmark their mail order starting Nov. 1. The general public can begin purchasing (in person or by mail) on Nov. 8. Go here for details.

Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara
Nov. 3: Cover Day—the Niagara crew will begin making the ship ready for the winter. Visit the museum website for more info as the day gets closer.
Nov. 18: Lecture—noted Battle of Lake Erie scholar Gerry Altoff will be the featured speaker in Hirt Auditorium at the Museum. Altoff, who retired as Chief Ranger and Historian at Perry’s Victory and International Peace Monument (NPS) in 2004, has written extensively about the War of 1812 on Lake Erie and speaks before a wide range of groups (the day before this lecture he’ll be speaking at a conference on Shipwrecks and Scuba (additional bio here)—have I mentioned how much I love Google?). 2 pm.

Fort Pitt Museum
Nov. 11, 12, 23: Open 10 am-5 pm.

Graeme Park
Nov. 3: Paranormal Investigations—the program will explore various spaces on the site; registration fee ($50) includes snacks and beverage service). Call 215/915-9453 for more info or reservations. 6:30 pm-1 am.
Nov. 24: A Soldier’s Christmas—see how soldiers have celebrated the holidays on the battlefront of different eras. Free admission; food and crafts available for sale (more info here). 3-8 pm.

Hope Lodge
Nov. 3-4: Whitemarsh Encampment Re-enactment—this long-standing event commemorates the Nov. 2-Dec. 11, 1777, encampment of Gen. George Washington and the Continental Army in the Whitemarsh Hills. Go here for program details and to download a discount coupon. 10 am-4 pm.

Joseph Priestley House
Nov. 4: Heritage Day—costumed interpreters will be stationed in the house as you tour, Dr. Priestley will demonstrate chemical principles, and there will be games for children. 1-4 pm (chemistry demos at 1:30 and 2:30).
Nov. 11: Open 1-4 pm.

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
Nov. 3-4: Weathervane Holiday Open House—shop for locally handmade art, crafts and heirloom-quality gifts and enjoy holiday decorations in the museum store. 9 am-5 pm.
Nov. 4: The Legacy of the Long Rifle—in conjunction with the museum’s Lancaster Long Rifle exhibit, this program presents several speakers on different aspects of the rifle’s history. “Daniel Boone” (Scott New, see program listings for Daniel Boone Homestead above) will talk about the Lancaster Long Rifle’s spread westward; John Kolar (one of the guest curators of the exhibit) will talk about the accuracy of the Pennsylvania Rifle; and Dr. Scott Stephenson will talk about the Pennsylvania Rifle in the American Revolution. For more info go here. Noon-5 pm.
Nov. 8: Hands-on History Days—experience seasonal chores, a one-room schoolhouse, hands-on crafts, and wagon rides. $10 per person (ages 5 and under are free). 10 am-3 pm.

Old Economy Village
Nov. 10: Trades Workshops—this year, choose between learning to make a lantern like the ones used during evening programs on the grounds or learning to spin and knit. Go here for details. 10 am-4 pm.
Nov. 23: Open 10 am-5 pm.
Nov. 25: Annual Christmas Dinner—enjoy a lantern-lit evening in the historic Feast Hall and help support the educational programs of Old Economy Village. More details are here. Deadline for reservations is Nov. 18.

Pennsbury Manor
Nov. 18: Open Hearth Cooking—the cooks will be exploring German food traditions (William Penn invited residents of the Palatinate to settle in Pennsylvania) and comparing them to English traditions of the period. 1-4 pm.

Pennsylvania Military Museum
Nov. 7: Friends Lecture Series, "Operation New Dawn - Civilian/Military Cooperation in Iraq, 2010-2011"—retired Foreign Service Officer Martin Quinn will discuss the changeover from military to civilian management of State Department responsibilities during his service in Iraq. 7:30 pm.
Nov. 10: Kids Day - Dress Up and Discover!!—Kids of all ages get to try on field gear and head gear from the museum education collection. Photo ops abound with three backdrops in the museum theatre. Visit the education stations in the galleries for more fun discoveries throughout the day. Half-price admission for ages 3 to 13; a donation is requested for the Dress-Up station. Parents must remain on-site while their kids participate in the activities. 10 am-3 pm.
Nov. 11: Open noon-4 pm.
Nov. 13: Central PA Civil War Roundtable Lecture, "The Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee"—speaker Matthew Atkinson discusses the bloodiest contest (April 6-7, 1862) in American history up to that time, in which Union Generals Grant and Buell beat back the surprise attack of Confederate forces led by Generals Albert Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard. 7:30 pm.
Nov. 23: Open 10 am-4 pm.

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
Nov. 3-4: Trains & Troops—this annual program salutes our armed forces and explores the role of the military in railroad history (and vice versa). A Swing Dance Saturday night (separate ticket) lets you enjoy big band music, refreshments, and swing, swing, swing. Go here for program details and schedule. Sat., 9 am-5 pm; Sun., noon-5 pm.
Nov. 11: Open noon-5 pm.
Nov. 23: Open 9 am-5 pm.

State Museum of Pennsylvania
Nov. 2-Feb. 13: Pennsylvania Watercolor Society exhibit—The State Museum is hosting PAWCS’s 33rd Annual International Juried Exhibition, with 120 watercolors selected from some 600 entries. Opening reception Nov. 4, 2-4 pm.
Nov. 3: “Contact, Conflict, and Colonization: The Archaeology of Penn’s Woods”—this is a day-long workshop exploring European colonization from 1550-1783. Go here for more details. 8:30 am-6 pm.
Nov. 16: Hidden Treasures Scavenger Hunt—it’s 3rd in the Burg and grown-ups get to explore the museum at this “friend-raiser/fundraiser.” Adult beverages, heavy hors d’oeuvres, and music by Back Alley Blues. For details go here. 6-9 pm.

Washington Crossing Historic Park
Nov. 11: Open 10 am-4 pm.
Nov. 23: Open 10 am-4 pm.

Human Interest Stories

I’ve found myself with several items in my “pending for Trailheads” folder that finally seem to have coalesced into a weekly post. At the very least I think they amount to a collection of interesting people who are all connected to the Trails of History directly or indirectly. So here goes.

Back in August, 107-year-old Lucille Severine toured Old Economy Village, enjoying the gardens, the George Rapp House, and the recreated Harmonist Museum. Everyone’s reasonably sure that Mrs. Severine is the oldest person ever to tour the site. (She was in her early teens when Old Economy became Pennsylvania’s first state-owned historic site in 1919.) We should all be so lucky to still be visiting new places at 107. Her connection to the Trails of History? Her grandson Michael Knecht is the site administrator at Old Economy.

From left:  Michael Knecht, Barbara Knecht, Lucille Severine,
Jean Severine Knecht, and George Knecht

The Sept. 30 edition of the Lancaster Sunday News included two articles about Trails of History denizens. Mary Ellen Wright’s “In the Spotlight” feature focused on Michael Showalter, museum educator at Ephrata Cloister since 1996 (he’s been with PHMC for 25 years). Asked to describe the best part of being a museum educator, Michael noted that, “I enjoy being able to use my knowledge and creativity to bring history to life for everyone, regardless of age or background.” Anyone who’s seen Michael at work will appreciate the truth of that. (You can read the entire piece here.) There may still be tickets available for tomorrow night's "Mysterious, Melancholy, and Macabre" tours; call 717/733-6600 for reservations.

The “Local Flavor” column, by Stephen Kopfinger, featured Tom Martin, who many of you have seen doing open hearth cooking and other food-related things at Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum for the past 20 years or more. Since it’s the beginning of apple season, Tom shared a recipe for Apple Cake from the Landis Valley Cookbook that sounds simply wonderful. (Go here for the full article, including recipe.)

My apologies for the lousy image quality, but I remembered that I had a photo of Michael (on the left in the photo below) and Tom discussing Pennsylvania German food traditions during a break at Ephrata’s Winter History class in February of this year (blog post about the class here).

Somerset Historical Center is hosting a community trick or treating event on October 30, and attendees of all ages are invited to come in costume as a historical figure from county history. To provide some guidance, the Center staff has compiled a series of suggestions, complete with images and a list of costume elements. You can see them here (scroll down). A great way, in my opinion, to teach about local history and have some fun at the same time. Bravo. THIS JUST IN--HISTORY HALLOWEEN HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED TO NOV. 8 (AKF 11/1)

And the award goes to...

Most of what we do here on Trailheads is to shine a spotlight on the work going on out there on the Trails of History. This week, I’m happy to report that some other organizations have recognized that work as well.

Weathervane Store Art Show at Landis Valley Village and
 Farm Museum via Facebook
Congratulations to The Weathervane Museum Store at Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum. The store was recently named one of four national honorable mentions for Smart Retailer’s Retailer of the Year Award. In an article profiling the honorees (you can read it here), author Lynn Petrak describes the store’s mix of wares by local artisans, sold primarily on consignment, as an important element in supporting the area economy and providing visitors with unique souvenirs of their visit to Lancaster County. Kudos to manager Mary Parelli, the Landis Valley Associates, and everyone else who makes the Weathervane a success.

Iron pour at Arts on Fire Festival, Scranton Iron Furnaces via Facebook
Last week, the Pennsylvania Downtown Center (PDC) announced the recipients of the 2012 Townie Awards, recognizing “the commonwealth's core communities and individuals for creation and implementation of projects, programs and events that exemplify the goals of PDC's community revitalization mission.” United Neighborhood Centers of NEPA (northeast Pennsylvania) was honored in the category of special or neighborhood event for the Arts on Fire Festival, which takes place at the Scranton Iron Furnaces. Specifically, Arts on Fire is part of UNCNEPA’s Elm Street Project, a community revitalization initiative on Scranton’s South Side that has partnered with the Furnaces and the Anthracite Heritage Museum (AHM) to focus on the historic site as an important asset to the area and a gateway from downtown Scranton to the South Side. Congratulations to Elm Street Manager Jill Murrin (former PA Conservation Corps crew leader at AHM), site administrator Chester Kulesa, and the many, many folks who have worked to develop this program and the partnership that supports it.

Happy weekend!

Have You Hugged an Archivist Today?

With their permission, of course. My apologies to my colleagues at the Pennsylvania State Archives for failing to mention in last week’s post that October is Pennsylvania Archives Month. This year’s poster (below) supports the 2012 theme, “The Land of Penn and Plenty: Bringing History to the Table,” and features archival photos from the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce (proving that Pennsylvania has been marketing its food heritage for years).

Archives Month is a national effort to draw attention to the importance of documentary heritage—not just the keeping of it but also the sharing of it. The Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) has a statement on their website about the importance of archives to lifelong learning—from students doing History Day projects to seniors researching their family history to pass it along to the next generation.

Our historic sites and museums use archival research to make connections between the artifacts in our collections and the stories they have to tell. For sites dealing with the 19th, 20th, or 21st century, historic photographs can illuminate topics in striking ways. You can search the Trailheads blog archive for “archives” and find quite a few relevant posts. Go here, here, or here for a few of them from the past year.

How have you used archival research lately?

(Also, please remember that Drake Well Museum, Fort Pitt Museum, and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania will be open on Columbus Day.)

Is it October in here, or is it just me?

It’s time for another edition of “Amy 'Can’t Believe' it’s Already [the next month].” You’d think I’d have the hang of this whole calendar progression thing by now, but apparently not. At any rate, October means harvest and Halloween programs, crisp weather (I hope), and beautiful fall foliage. It also means Columbus Day (Oct. 8). Most sites on the Trails of History will be closed, but Drake Well Museum, Ephrata Cloister (sorry, my mistake--AKF 10/4/12), Fort Pitt Museum, and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania will be open.

Anthracite Heritage Museum and Scranton Iron Furnaces
Oct. 5: Celebrating the Iron Furnaces—see the furnaces illuminated, enjoy local bluegrass band Cabinet, and take a hayride at this free Scranton Iron Furnaces program. Tours of the Scranton Estate at the Univ. of Scranton will also be available. 6-9 pm.
Oct. 20: Bonfire and Harvest Festival—experience Celtic harvest traditions, food, music, and a roaring bonfire at the Scranton Iron Furnaces. Sign up here to enter the Pumpkin Carving contest. Admission fee charged, benefits the Arts on Fire Festival held in the summer. 8-11 pm.

Brandywine Battlefield
Oct. 20: Halloween Event—Witch Hunt and Ball. Please check the website for details as the date approaches.
Oct. 28: Battlefield Movies—This month’s feature is The Crossing, an A&E production starring Jeff Daniels as George Washington. Free. 1 pm.

Bushy Run Battlefield
Oct. 3: Westmoreland Day of Giving—Bushy Run Battlefield Heritage Society is participating in this one-day-only online giving campaign sponsored by the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County. To learn more about the 2012 Day of Giving, go here.
Oct. 20: Haunted History Hayride—this year is the 23rd annual hayride event, so you know it’s popular. Tickets go on sale Oct. 1 and cannot be purchased before that date. Call the site at 724/527-5584 to place your order (leave a message with name, phone number, and number of tickets requested). 7-10 pm.

Conrad Weiser Homestead
Oct. 7: Site open—it’s the first Sunday of the month, so the site will be welcoming visitors from noon to 4 pm.
Oct. 23: Weiser Interpretive Sunday and Fall Park Walk—enjoy the beautiful Olmsted-designed park, as well as hourly guided tours of the site. Noon-4 pm (last tour is at 3).

Cornwall Iron Furnace
Oct. 9: Friends Lecture Series—“The History of Powwowing,” a talk by Patrick Donmoyer, will explore the historical and cultural roots of Pennsylvania German traditional medicine customs and rituals. Lecture is free and takes place in Freeman Auditorium at Cornwall Manor retirement community. 7 pm.
Oct. 14: Antique Autos and their Drivers Visit the Furnace—as part of the “Hershey Hangover Tour” (so-called because it comes on the heels of the Antique Automobile Club of America’s annual fall meet in nearby Hershey), a selection of vehicles will be on site sometime between 2:30 and 4 pm.

Daniel Boone Homestead
Oct. 14: Heritage Day and Market Fair—activities planned for this annual event include a market and craft fair, Pennsylvania German food vendors, the unveiling of the newly renovated visitor center, and a new exhibit on the myths and history of Daniel Boone. Admission charged (no fee for Friends of Daniel Boone Homestead members). 10 am-4 pm.
Oct. 21: Fall Lecture Series—Marcia Fronk Houston will present a talk based on the journals of travelers who were “Just Passing Through” the Reading area in the early 19th century. Suggested donation, $2. 2 pm.
Oct. 27: Reservation deadline for Dinner with Daniel Boone—this fundraising event on Nov. 3 will feature Boone interpreter Scott New, who will be at the homestead that day to help celebrate Daniel’s birthday. Check here for details and call 610/582-4900 for reservations.
Oct. 28: Halloween at the Homestead & Pig Roast Fundraiser—there will be loads of activities for kids, including trick-or-treating (wear a costume and bring a bag for your goodies), plus a storytelling program, and a pig roast fundraiser. Different admission fees apply depending on what you wish to participate in (combo tickets are available). Go here for details and plan your day. 10 am-4 pm.

Drake Well Museum
Oct. 17-19: Heritage School Tours—students spend a full day learning about oilfield life. Reservations required; call 814/827-2797.
Oct. 27: Oil Valley Blacksmiths—this is the last of the monthly blacksmithing demos for the season. 10 am-2 pm.

Eckley Miners’ Village
Oct. 7: Ghost Stories from the Mines—Bob Vybrenner will share tales of ghosts and other weird happenings. Is Eckley haunted? You decide. 2-4 pm.
Oct. 12-13, 19-20, 26-27: Halloween Lantern Tours—tour groups walk through the 19th-century village and encounter funny, scary, and entertaining scenes. Bring your own flashlight or you can purchase a lantern when you buy your tickets. Rain dates are Oct. 14, 21, 28, but you should check with the site to confirm. Admission charged. While this event is family-oriented, it is not recommended for children younger than 6. First tour leaves the visitor center at 6:30 pm, the last at 9 pm sharp.

Ephrata Cloister
Oct. 5-6: Apple Dumpling Days—celebrate autumn, support the Back to the Cloister Fund (which helps to return original furnishings and objects to the site), and enjoy a wonderful Pennsylvania Dutch tradition. Saturday, Oct. 6, is also a Day of Music, featuring the Ephrata Cloister Chorus. Visit the website for details on admission prices. There is no admission fee if you come just to purchase apple dumplings. 9:30 am-4 pm.
Oct. 6, 13, 20: Mysterious, Melancholy, and Macabre—ripped from the headlines of early Lancaster newspapers, stories of murder, conspiracy, lightning strikes, and (perhaps) a ghost or two make this a chilling (though not terrifying) event. A master carver will be working on a giant pumpkin (about an hour before the first tour). Reservations are recommended, and tickets are on sale now; call 717/733-6600. Tours set out every half-hour from 6:30 to 8 pm.
Oct. 19: Community Days—this popular program is an educational open house, with learning stations scattered around the site. Students and their accompanying adults move at their own pace as they explore the activities. Reservations are strongly encouraged; call 717/733-6600. 9:30 am-1 pm.

Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara
Oct. 8: PA Council for History Education (PCHE) history conference—hosted by the Erie Maritime Museum and sponsored, in part, by PHMC, this program is designed for educators and anyone else interested in learning and/or teaching about the War of 1812. Go here for details and registration materials. 8:30 am-3:30 pm.
Oct. 19-20, 26-27: Ghosts Afloat—working with students from Mercyhurst and Gannon Universities, the Flagship Niagara League brings you a shipboard experience just right for Halloween. Dramatizing stories from the Battle of Lake Erie and the ship’s history, the program is great for people who like some history with their mayhem. Based on the news footage I saw last year, it’s not for the faint of heart (or young children), but it looks like a blast. 6-9 p.m. Sorry, not happening this year. Niagara will be in port and open for visitors on Oct. 6, as it begins to wind down its sailing season. (AKF 10/5/12)
Oct. 20: Lecture—Dr. Allan Belovarac, professor of history at Mercyhurst University, will talk about his research on the Battle of Lake Erie (Sept. 10, 1813). More specifically, Dr. Belovarac will explore the historical controversy surrounding Jesse Duncan Elliott, sometimes accused of cowardice and holding his ship (Niagara) back from the battle (you can see a previous lecture on the subject here). Hirt Auditorium, 2 pm.

Graeme Park
Oct. 3-4: Senior Days—In the late 1700s, intellectual and poet Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson gathered friends for evenings of conversation and enlightenment. This new program is in that spirit and offers two days of educational sessions and sociability. You can register for either or both days, depending on your interest and schedule. Continental breakfast and lunch is included each day. Go here for more info.
Oct. 26-27: Haunted Moonlight Tours—see the Keith House by night at this popular annual program. Check the website or blog closer to the date for details.

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum
Oct. 4 and 25: Hands-on History Days—children of all ages get to experience seasonal chores, hands-on crafts, wagon rides, and more. $10 per person (children 5 and younger get in free). Contact Sheri Brown for details: or 717/569-0401 x 228. 10 am-3 pm.
Oct. 13-14: Harvest Days—a classic autumn event with wagonloads of demonstrations and activities for the whole family in a beautiful setting. Go here for details and lovely photos from past events. 11 am-5 pm.

Old Economy Village
Oct. 13: Oktoberfest from A to Z—this seminar will look at the history, facts, customs, traditions, and highlights of Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. Cost is $20; contact instructor Ed Heinlein at 412/680-6460 or 10 am-noon.
AND German “Oktoberfest” Celebration—enjoy entertainment by Burke’s Bavarian Band and German beer from Pennsylvania. Cost is $40 ($32 for members of FOEV); deadline to purchase tickets is Oct. 8 (call 724/266-4500 x 101). 6-10 pm.

Pennsbury Manor
Oct. 7: Historic Trades—your last chance, for this season, to visit the blacksmith and joyner as they demonstrate their skills with metal- and woodworking. 1-4 pm.
Oct. 14: Living History Theater—you are invited to join Penn’s steward and housekeeper, John Sotcher and Mary Lofty, as they are united in marriage according to 17th-century Quaker wedding customs. Sign the wedding certificate and chat with William Penn and other guests. 1-4 pm.
Oct. 21: The Tiger Classic at Penn’s Manor—Bristol Township School District is organizing a Family Fun Run and 5K on the grounds at Pennsbury. There will be food, entertainment, and a great chance to experience the site. Go here for details and registration, or you can register on the day. 7:30 am-1 pm.
AND Open Hearth Cooking—the cooks will have the oven fired up and the aroma of freshly baked bread will be everywhere. Come for the run, stay for the bread. 1-4 pm.
Oct. 28: Family Halloween and Witch Trial—enjoy trick-or-treating, traditional fall activities, and games. There will also be a living history theater presentation of the 1684 trial of Margaret Mattson, accused of witchcraft by some of her neighbors. 1-4 pm.

Pennsylvania Lumber Museum
Oct 6-7: 31st Annual Fall Antique and Collectible Show—dealers from New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania will bring their finest; the visitor center will be featuring an exhibit of 19th-century lumber region photographs; volunteers will demonstrate the museum’s new Birch Still; and there will be an ongoing silent auction. Admission is $4.50 for adults, $3 for ages 3 to 11 (free for members); proceeds will support interactive exhibit components for the expanded and renovated visitor center. Go here for details. 10 am-4:30 pm.

Pennsylvania Military Museum
Oct. 3: Richard Kontz Memorial Lectures (Friends of PMM)—Capt. James Bloom, USNavy (Ret.) will present “War of 1812: A Naval Perspective,” focusing on US naval successes early in the war, key engagements, and naval warfare in general during the Age of Sail. 7:30 pm.

Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
Oct. 7: Garden Railways Tour—this annual event features nine outdoor model train layouts scattered throughout Lancaster County. Tickets ($10 per person for ages 6 and up) are available from the museum by mail or in person; they can also be purchased at any Stauffer’s of Kissel Hill store in central Pennsylvania. Go here for details, including mail-in order form. 1-5 pm.

Somerset Historical Center
Oct. 27: Exhibit opening—“The Run for Political Office” explores three centuries of election history in the local region and at the national level. The exhibit includes campaign posters, buttons, and even an early voting booth. Included in regular admission (free for members).
Oct. 30: Trick or Treat through History—Young and old are invited to dress as their favorite Somerset Countian and enjoy an evening of trick-or-treating with a historical theme. Lanterns will light the pathways between buildings. Check with SHC for exact times.

State Museum of Pennsylvania
Through Oct. 12: Fort Hunter Dig—the public is welcome to see the work being done by State Museum archaeologists to uncover the 18th-century remains of the Fort (you can read more about that here).
Oct. 17: National Fossil Day—visit Dino Lab to see the bones of a mammoth discovered at the bottom of Erie County’s Lake Pleasant in 1991 and recently acquired by the museum. Included in museum admission. 11 am-2 pm.
Oct. 19: 3rd in the Burg—this month the museum will feature its new “Planetarium XD,” with showings at 11:30 am, noon, and 12:30 pm. Admission is free during those times on a first-come, first-served basis (planetarium seating is limited).
Oct. 20: Great Pumpkin Day—this annual family event provides fun, games, snacks, and a “Trick-or-Treat” challenge as you explore the exhibits. Included in museum admission. 10 am-3 pm.

Washington Crossing Historic Park
Oct. 7: Historic Foodways—join foodways interpreters for a chocolate demonstration in the Lower Park. Free. 10 am-3 pm.
Oct. 13-14: Taylorsville Tour Days—the area of the Lower Park is also the village of Taylorsville. Learn more about life there in the 19th century by taking a tour. Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for ages 5 to 11 (under 5 are free). 10 am-4 pm.
Oct. 27 Oct. 26: 23 Steps—a harvest and Halloween inspired program at Bowman’s Hill Tower. The program includes a chance to look at the stars from the top of the tower through a telescope (if you climb the 23 steps from the elevator). Check the website or contact the site at 215/493-4076 for details. 7-10 pm 6 pm & 8 pm.

September News (Some of It)

It’s time for a periodic review of newsworthy items that haven’t made it into other posts. As we drift into autumn (officially tomorrow), I’d also like to put in a plug for Pennsylvania Heritage; the Fall 2012 issue’s Trailheads feature looks at exhibits and programs on the Trails of History. The magazine is a benefit of membership in the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation (another benefit is free regular admission to PHMC sites). If you’re already a member of PHF or of an Associates/Friends group at one of our sites, thank you for your support. We appreciate all the folks who join, visit, donate, and/or spread the word about the Trails of History and participate in the important work of telling Pennsylvania’s stories.

Historical Marker Dedication, Philadelphia
One way you can help tell the stories of Pennsylvania history is by nominating an event, place, or individual for a PHMC historical marker. The subject of the nomination must have statewide or national significance. This often means putting specific examples into their larger context, which, in my opinion, is one of the things good local history does. Nominators must do their homework and provide substantive background on the subject of the marker, so it’s time to start if you want to make the December 1 postmark deadline. Details on the criteria for selection, types of documentation required, and the nomination process are here.

Gov. Tom Corbett and First Lady Susan Corbett (also known as First Tourist) will be on hand later today to welcome US Brig Niagara and her crew back to Erie after their participation in the Battle of Lake Erie commemoration in Put-in-Bay, Ohio, and Navy Week festivities in Buffalo, New York. And thanks to a $40,000 grant from Country Fair, 900 8th graders in Erie and the surrounding area will sail on Niagara (not all at once) to learn about the War of 1812, the basics of knot tying, and what shipboard life was like for 19th-century sailors. If you’ve had the chance to take part in a daysail, you know that it’s likely to be the highlight of the year for many of the students (maybe we’ll even get some budding historians out of it). Through this partnership with the Flagship Niagara League, the public can contribute to the 8th grade daysails by purchasing a Sailing Program placard at any Country Fair store during the month of September.

Garden at Pennsbury Manor via Facebook
In late August, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced this year’s grant recipients in the Coastal Zone Management program. CZM, a federal program funded primarily by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, the folks that make the weather), supports programs that measure the impact of various pollution sources; improve public access; preserve habitats; and educate the public about the benefits of the state’s coastal zones (the Delaware River Estuary and Lake Erie). PHMC received a grant of $40,000 for the restoration of fences around historic plantings and garden beds at Pennsbury Manor. To see first-hand where some of this work will take place, check out the Garden Highlights program at Pennsbury this Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.

Okay, one more item about money. Last month the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority awarded a $5,500 grant to support the Fall Heritage Event Series at the Scranton Iron Furnaces. Several of the events took place earlier this month, but two evening programs are coming up in October. “Celebrating the Scranton Iron Furnaces” (Oct. 5) includes a nighttime illumination of the furnaces, hayrides, and a bluegrass concert by Scranton-based band Cabinet (give them a listen here). “Bonfire and Harvest Festival” (Oct. 20) features food, music, harvest traditions, and, um, a bonfire (take a look at the cover photo on the furnaces’ Facebook page). Click here for details. (There was a nice article on heritage tourism in Scranton on GoLackawanna recently, featuring staff from Anthracite Heritage.)

Shared meal at Graeme Park via their blog
The PHMC’s 2012 Foodways theme will, come the new year, give way to the 2013 theme (the Civil War), but let’s face it, food traditions always have been, and probably always will be, a big hit at historic sites. Starting on Sept. 29, Graeme Park will offer “Hearth and Home: Seasonal Cooking in the Colonial Kitchen,” a series of four programs focused on seasonally available foods of 18th-century southeastern Pennsylvania. Each class will include hands-on activities (for foodie grownups) and a shared meal. In addition to next Saturday, classes are scheduled for Dec. 8, Mar. 9, and May 11; cost is $55 per class or $200 for all four. Registration (required) closes 2 days before each class. Go here for details and contact info.